Irish Film Institute -CITY OF LIFE AND DEATH


Director: LU CHUAN

132 minutes| China| 2009| Subtitled| Black and White| D-Cinema Notes by Trevor Johnston

This film was released 16th April 2010 and is no longer screening.

More than seven decades later, a sense of outrage still burns in China over the so-called ‘Rape of Nanking’. This impassioned fresco recreates the dark days of 1937, when the Chinese government withdrew from their then capital (now known as Nanjing) and the ensuing occupation saw the Japanese military not only shooting many thousands of Chinese soldiers and civilians, but committing sexual assault on a massive scale.

Filmed in black and white on huge sets recreating the bomb-blasted city, director Lu Chuan’s dramatised account is certainly harrowingly credible. What’s remarkable about it, though, is its deep sympathy for the victims on both sides, offering a key role for a Japanese soldier disgusted by the carnage, even if the overall emphasis is understandably on the heroic sacrifices of Chinese patriots. Since some in Japan continue to dispute the facts even now, this is undoubtedly a significant film – born out of fury, no doubt, but using humane understanding as a weapon.

Book Tickets